Ghostwire: Tokyo

I gotta admit, I was pretty confused by Ghostwire: Tokyo in the months leading to launch (even after playing the Prelude visual novel). But now that I’m actually playing the game, I’m having a pretty good time with it. It’s an odd duck, to be sure, but in a refreshing and endearing way, much like Death Stranding or, to a lesser degree, Elden Ring. Ghostwire: Tokyo is very much in its own odd-duck lane doing it’s own odd-duck thing, and I’m all about it.

Normally, when I play games set in Japan, I prefer to play them with their native Japanese language as the default speech option. I find it really helps with the immersion of the world, and I absolutely love the inflections and cadences of the spoken Japanese language. But in the case of Ghostwire: Tokyo, it’s becoming a bit of a hurdle.

The basic gist of Ghostwire‘s story is that a mysterious fog has gone all Night of the Comet on Tokyo, zapping every living inhabitant into oblivion, leaving nothing but piles of clothes and crashed vehicles in its wake. Oh, and spooky ghosts are now shambling around, seemingly taking up residence in humanity’s absence.

Ghostwire: Tokyo

You play as Akito, a dude who pretty much just died in motorcycle crash on his way to visiting his ailing sister (who, surprise surprise, you will have rescue), but was possessed by a spirit named KK who is hellbent on reversing this Rapture-esque event.

Throughout your journey, Akito and KK engage in almost nonstop banter; some of it driving the narrative, while other times it’s more of a tutorial on the game’s mechanics and many features. It can be a lot at times, especially in the heat of combat, which is where I started to feel the desire to not have to constantly look at subtitles (in case it’s not already clear, I do not actually speak Japanese myself).

So I decided to give the English dub a whirl, despite my normal reticence (Japanese-language games have been known to employ pretty cringey English-language performances in their dubs). And although Ghostwire‘s dubs aren’t the worst, they aren’t going to win any awards either.

And this brings me to my dilemma: On one hand, the Japanese version of the dialog is gripping, and it really helps set the mood. On the other, having to read subtitles on the thick of things means I only get snippets of what’s going on, or I miss out on explanations for some of the game mechanics.

This is, of course, remedied by switching to the English dub, but in doing so I’m stuck listening to the “American bro” versions of these characters. And that takes me out of the experience somewhat, considering this game is set in Tokyo and traffics in a lot of Japanese customs, lore, and culture.

Ghostwire: Tokyo

So, which is winning out? The native-Japanese version, or the English dub? Well, it’s a bit of a tossup. I figure that, while I’m getting my bearing with combat and the dialog is very systems-heavy, I’ll just grin and bear the English dub. But as this thins out and I’m more handy with the finger guns, maybe I can switch back to the Japanese dub to get the full experience as it was intended.

In the meantime, I guess I’m glad that both options are on the table.

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